Saturday, November 30, 2013

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #14

In mid-November, the idea of Trans Iowa was hatched. The year was 2004. In the ten years since then there have been many stories and memories. These posts will tell of the most prominent ones to my mind. Maybe I'll even spill the beans on some things you never knew....

Editor's Note: Images courtesy of Cale Wenthur.

I have no recollection of doing this!
 Trans Iowa v3, in terms of the event, was shaping up to become an epic, Mano-a-mano showdown between two, haggard road warriors. I was excited to see what would happen. I remember racing through the night on twisty, turny highways with Zach barely able to follow me to make sure we'd be at the finish line before either Ira or Marcin could climb that steep, two tiered hill to the cemetery.

As we pulled up, I saw Captain Bob, my finish line helper and not long afterward, there came Marty with his Haro Mary single speed 29"er. These guys and several others began hanging out in the pre-dawn twilight waiting to see who would crawl up the hill first. It was cold and dreary, but we didn't have to wait long until we saw Ira Ryan struggling to reach the crest of the hill. He put in a final finishing flurry, coasted to the side of the road where his support crew was, and collapsed onto the pavement.

Now in his defense, Ira was obviously exhausted, and mentally he likely may not have been 100%, but as I congratulated him on his win, he swore and cursed me and the course, while his crew scowled at me as they drug him away, wrapping him in a blanket. That was my last contact with Ira Ryan to this very day. He didn't come to the awards ceremony, and I had to ship his prizing to him in Portland, Oregon. He stands out as the singular example of a finisher in nine Trans Iowas that has reacted negatively. So, that is definitely a chief memory from the past years!

Well, with that bit of a shock, I was reeling. However; it was all soon forgotten as Team Polska arrived, (Marcin's brother, Majiec, and Doug Pietz), and they were armed with wooden spoons and metal pots. They screamed some Polish encouragements to Marcin, beating the pots and running alongside him, as he toiled up the final slope to finish just ten minutes down on Ira. Unlike Ira and his crew, Team Polska stuck around to the bitter end, encouraging every finisher that came up that hill loudly and with banging pots in hand!

One of Trans Iowa's enduring images came from V3
And we had finishers! It must be pointed out here that V3 was the first time I got to witness anyone finishing a Trans Iowa. V1's 9 finishers all finished without anyone from Trans Iowa being there, and of course, no one finished the second version. So, this was all new and fun for me. (Ira notwithstanding)

24 folks climbed that last hill, and it was a glorious, sun drenched morning with folks hanging out and having a fantastic time. I had a great time, but soon, I was getting a bit antsy to get on to the upper room above T Bock's to run the awards ceremonies. The event was scheduled to run until 2pm, and it was 1:40pm. I was packing up my stuff. Everyone was gone except Team Polska, who were sitting in their car waiting for me to pull away. I sat down in my Honda, I looked hard at the crest of the hill in front of me, hesitating. I was missing one person, unaccounted for. Could they still be out there? I hated to leave, but I wanted to get the awards done so folks, (and myself), could go home. Just as I hit the key and put the Honda in reverse, I saw a helmet bob above the horizon line. It was a rider!

I shut the car off, jumped out with clipboard in hand, and began encouraging the rider. Team Polska leapt into action as well, and Mike Denehy finished T.I.v3 with 15 minutes to spare!

You know.....that's the last thing I can remember about T.I.V3! I went and did the entire awards ceremony, packed up the Honda, probably said some goodbyes to folks, and left town. All of that time I have zero memory of. I'd been up for 34+ hours straight, and I suppose my mind was fried. Stressed out before the event for sure, and I know that had to be an issue afterward as well. 

Tomorrow: How Trans Iowa almost never happened again, and what made it continue.


Ari said...

All things related to Trans Iowa should be put down on Paper, chisled into marble so there is no chance it will ever be lost or forgotten. There will never be experiences like this again and I am happy to have been part of some of them.
Thanks for writing these accounts.

john said...

Over the years Iowa has had many folks rise to the top of the biking world. It is certainly a real joy to have Ira Ryan as a part of that wonderful tradition.
Here is an interesting and supportive comment from Ira about the Iowa gravel race -In early 2005 I built my first frame and raced it in the inaugural Trans-Iowa gravel road race and won the 325-mile event in 25 hours. The feeling of gliding over the moonlit gravel roads of Iowa that I remember from my first days on a bicycle, cemented the idea of alchemy that is frame building to me.

Guitar Ted said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guitar Ted said...

@john: Sorry- I didn't quite convey the correct feeling with the previously deleted comment.

Here's the thing- Ira isn't saying anything supportive of Trans Iowa in that quote, and if you read it, you will see that this is true.

Ira Ryan is an accomplished cyclist. Of that there is no doubt. However; his words to me were not, (putting it kindly), very nice or uplifting and his non-attendance at the post race event says something not so positive to me as well.

You are welcome to place him on a pedestal if you'd like, but my experiences with him and his relationship with Trans Iowa are what they are and I am not going to allow anyone to make it seem otherwise.

gpickle said...

"while his crew scowled at me as they drug him away, wrapping him in a blanket"

As one of Ira's buds who was there at the finish I want to point out my recollection. We did not drag anyone away, Ira hung out and had a beer in fact. He chatted with Marcin after he finished. I don't know what he said to you, none of my business anyways, and I would not care to debate so many years after the moment especially as you said in your previous post: "It was 4am in the morning and things were getting weirder and hazier by the minute......" I have no memory of the finish being tense in any way whatsoever, and as you say I am not going to allow anyone to make it seem otherwise.

As to why we left the finish, I was doing the Decorah TT so we took off, nothing more to it than that. We then did not hang out for the awards because not only was Sunday the day of the Decorah TT but also the Old Cap Crit. Now Ira, being an Iowa City boy living in Portland could see a whole lot of old friends there from all over the midwest and as everyone who has done or even won a trans iowa knows - it ain't about the prizes, so we went to Iowa City, Ira slept the whole way, and we hung out at the Old Cap. A long day for sure! I finish up with a positive Ira trans Iowa quote found on the internets:

I also love the Trans Iowa gravel road race. I’ve won this race twice, once in 2005 and once in 2007. I grew up riding on gravel roads in Iowa and this was a great race for memories and delirium. I will always remember listening to my ipod and cruising along under a full moon.

Guitar Ted said...

@gpickle: Hey gpickle! Nice of you to chime in. I was expecting you would.....

By the way, gpickle is a Trans Iowa finisher too. (V1)

Anyway, I find your comments......interesting.

Firstly, my recollection of the finish isn't at all in conflict with yours. You maybe do not remember what was said, but I, (and a few others within earshot), do. And as for the "scowling", it was you, ironically, whose face I most remember at the scene.

Next- I did not say that Ira and his crew left "immediately", I said that you "didn't hang out", and in comparison to everyone else that day, you and the others stayed the least amount of time. I believe you were all gone not long after Marcin finished, which was not very long at all. But whatever......

Finally- It doesn't matter why you guys left. (After 6.5 years, I finally know why), but it is how you left which made the impressions I write about here.

And as for Ira's "fondness" for Trans Iowa, whatever that may mean for him, he's never taken the time or effort to say so to me. Big difference between him and the 99.9% of the other T.I. finishers, and that- ultimately- is the point behind my memory written here and elsewhere about T.I.v3. He still stands as the singular finisher of a Trans Iowa that left with a negative comment to me.